[Usefulness of temporal artery biopsy: analysis of 100 cases]

Med Clin (Barc). 1989 Jan 28;92(3):81-5.
[Article in Spanish]


We have evaluated 100 biopsies of temporal artery carried out in the Hospital La Paz from 1972 to 1986. On the basis of the histological result and the final diagnosis we divided the patients in five groups: I, temporal arteritis/polymyalgia rheumatica with positive biopsy, 11 cases; II, temporal arteritis without polymyalgia symptoms and with positive biopsy, 16 cases; III, temporal arteritis with negative biopsy, 7 cases; IV, polymyalgia with negative biopsy, 14 cases; and V, other diagnoses, 43 cases. The number of diagnoses of temporal arteritis/polymyalgia rheumatica has increased throughout the recent years, although the positive biopsies/overall biopsies ratio has remained constant. Certain symptoms such as claudication, headache, amaurosis and Raynaud's phenomenon have a high predictive value of a positive result, but their sensitivity is low. In the 25 patients with polymyalgia, biopsy was positive in 11, out of which 4 did not have features of temporal arteritis. Biopsy was positive in 4 out of the 9 patients in whom it was repeated in the contralateral side. The diagnostic yield was higher in those cases in whom it was indicated for classical temporal arteritis symptoms, but we emphasize that there was a 19% positive rate in patients who presented with fever of unknown origin, while it was only 5.5% in those in whom a constitutional syndrome was being evaluated. We conclude that the use of temporal biopsy should be more widespread, as its cost is low and it has no side effects; therefore, it can achieve a great benefit for the patient with a shorter and less expensive hospital stay.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / diagnosis
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / diagnosis
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / pathology
  • Temporal Arteries / pathology*